In just a few words, Robin Taylor summed up the sentiments of many award winners.
“I’m not expecting this, and I’m very humbled. I love my job,” said the licensed practical nurse at Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic.
After a quick nod to the crowd, she was off the stage.
Taylor was among 14 area health care professionals and providers honored at the Brenau Downtown Center Wednesday, Feb. 28, for “making a significant impact on our quality of life through excellence in health and wellness.”
Healthy Hall award winners
- Outstanding Allied Health Professional: Gainesville Physical Therapy
- Outstanding Health Care Professional: Dr. Jack M. Chapman Jr.
- Outstanding Health Care Administrator: Carol Burrell, Northeast Georgia Health System
- Visionary Leader Award: Mimi Collins, Longstreet Clinic
- Community Impact Award: Dallas Gay
- Senior Impact Award: Legacy Link
- Health Care Education Award: Gale Hansen Starich, Ph.D., Brenau University
- Outstanding Achievement in Behavioral Health: Cindy Levi, Avita Community Partners
- Nurse (LPN) of the Year: Robin Taylor, Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic
- Nurse (RN) of the Year: Aprill Exley, Northeast Georgia Health System
- Dentist of the Year: Dr. Cindy Greene, BGW Dental Group
- Physician Specialist of the Year: Dr. J. Jeffrey Marshall, The Heart Center of NGMC
- Primary Care Physician of the Year: Dr. Antonio Rios, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group
- Lifetime Achievement Award: the late Dr. Henry S. Jennings Jr.
The tribute was part of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s new Healthy Hall Awards of Excellence Program.
“A healthy community is very important to us at the chamber,” board of directors Chairman Perry Barnett said. “It’s a 24/7 profession that truly requires passionate and compassionate people to give us the healthy community we have today.”
Chamber President and CEO Kit Dunlap said an awards program recognizing top health care workers “is something we’ve talked about for a couple of years.”
She personally — and jokingly — thanked health care workers at the luncheon.
“I’m the perfect patient to almost everyone in here. Starting at the bottom, I got a new hip, then I have terrible arthritis in my back, a rotator cuff up here,” Dunlap said with a rub of her shoulder.
“Let’s see, what’s next? Dry eyes. I’m certainly a senior citizen. And a lot of you in here think I need some mental health.”
Dr. Jack M. Chapman Jr., a Gainesville ophthalmologist with Gainesville Eye Associates and former president of the Medical Association of Georgia, was named Outstanding Health Care Professional.
“We have been blessed to have forefathers that have put us on the path to where we are today,” he said. “Our health care would not be where it is if not (for them).”
Awards went to a wide variety of professionals, not just folks with M.D. beside their name.
Gale Hansen Starich, dean of the Sidney O. Smith Jr. Graduate School and the College of Health Sciences at Brenau University, was recognized for health care education.
Dallas Gay, whose grandson died in 2012 from an opioid overdose and who is one of the organizers of Partnership for a Drug Free Hall, was given the Community Impact Award.
Many of the winners were familiar faces, who have been honored before, including Carol Burrell, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System. She was named Outstanding Health Care Administrator.
“I am only receiving this honor because all of you have made me successful,” Burrell said. “It takes a team, every aspect coming together, and I appreciate and am honored by the recognition.”
Among the honorees was the late Dr. Henry S. Jennings Jr., who moved his family from Atlanta to Gainesville in the early 1950s. His daughter, the Rev. Betsy Jennings Powell, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf.
“If Daddy were standing here in my place, he would thank you and then in the same breath … he would say, ‘But why me?’” she said.
“He would express his gratitude to all the physicians, nurses and all those other fine professionals who welcomed him then in this even then auspicious medical community.”
Louis G. Smith Jr., president of Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, was the featured speaker at the event.
“I salute all of you,” he said. “I know in that day to day, a lot of things can get lost, but we’re here to help catch people in those vulnerable moments. And I will tell you this community does that better than most I’ve ever seen.”